Episode 177: Art Journalism

January 18, 2009 · Print This Article

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This week, Kathryn sits down with Olga Stefan, editor of CAC’s Prompt Journal, and Jason Foumberg, Art Editor of New City. Together, they discuss/debate/debunk the recent talk about the Chicago art scene being dead and accusations about a lack of discussion in this city. Kathryn whips out the math, proposing that if the Chicagoland population comprises 1/700 earthlings on the planet, aren’t we adequately represented in the global art world market?

Jason also discusses the Chicago Art Critics Association group project coming up at Ispace.

Richard continues the official campaign of contrition for Duncan’s crimes against Lauren Vallone.

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40 thoughts on “Episode 177: Art Journalism”

  1. tom sanford says:

    hey Chicago-

    All the insipid whining about Chicago being irrelevant is self fulfilling. Instead of talking about this inferiority complex on every third episode of BaS, why not tell us about the interesting stuff that is happening? Artist interviews instead of talking about generalizations about “the art world” would allow us in other places to forget that no one cares about Chicago.

  2. Richard says:


    I disagree that this is a topic of discussion ever third episode. I think the show, at its core is predicated on being a positive force for touting all of the cool stuff going on in Chicago.


  3. tom sanford says:

    slight hyperbole, but i think every time it is mentioned it does y’all a disservice.

  4. Jason says:

    Tom, I think everyone involved here are big supporters of art and artists. for more “interesting stuff,” check out http://art.newcity.com/ which is updated Monday evenings.

  5. Kathryn says:

    Hi All,

    My goal wasn’t to bellyache. My latest feeling is that the arts media outlets should support each other, rather than compete with each other. The catalyst for me is that New City quadrupled it’s arts coverage, and no one said a peep about it, same with Prompt. And the complaints about a lack of press continued. So this isn’t about second city status, it’s highlighting what we already have.

    At the end of the day, no arts media can survive without readers and listeners.

    Also, worth discussing, is how to do interesting profiles of artists. Sadly for me I’ve gotten more interested in the microcosm of the art world and how it’s reflection of the world at large, rather than hearing an artist discussing their process. “Hello Beautiful” had artists and poets on every week and it was a total snoozer. It’s a hard format to do well, as what artists do is fairly intangible.

    That’s just where I’m at. I’m a cultural worker myself and I always perfer epidodes where people talk shop.


  6. pedrovel says:

    There’s more than enough art criticism in Chicago. and has been that way for a long time…maybe the people complaining, the ones with the complex, just like their criticism Institutionalized-for them it’s only legit if it comes inside the pages of the Trib or Art in America.

    also, I see no good reason to redo the New Art Examiner, what’s the point?

    But I agree with Tom that, for some reason, the intros in BAS shows always sound/seem to exploit the complex instead of dismissing it. Maybe its the attitude or the tone..who knows.

    anyways, the Chi critics are doing great work and it’s being noticed outside the city.

  7. Kathryn says:

    If everyone is cool with me going on a tangent, after doing this interview I did think some things through and came to a personal realization.

    When 9/11 happened, I felt really alienated from the rest of the poplulation because, although 2,000 lives were tragically lost… well, cripe, 10,000 kids die of malnutrition every day. What’s “wrong” with me ethically is that I don’t value American lives over non-American lives, I think it’s all tragic. Loss of life is loss of life. I watched Slumdog Millionaire and couldn’t sleep that night.

    So with that being my point of view, hell, as long as 1 in 700 artists in any global art fair are from Chicago, then I believe we have an adequate presence. (9 million Chicagolanders in a 6 billion global population gives you 1/700 people)

    I’ve seen a lot of white-people-American-art in my day. Maybe I’m just comfortable with stepping aside and making room for people who’ve never had a shot.


  8. I’m with Tom on this. As an Chicago expat looking at it from the outside, all the insecure navel gazing seems to be a bit of a self fulfilling prophecy condemning a town with great contemporary art.

    Here in San Francisco we have the opposite problem- Some artists assume they are so important and above it they forget to make themselves relevant.

    Those are my stereotypes for today.


  9. It would be nice if your inclusiveness sceneraio were correct, Kathryn, but it is not. In the artworld there is a smattering of “token” folks outside the norm, but it is extremely racist, sexist and most of all classist. Now more classist than anytime since Modernism began.

  10. Kathryn says:


    I agree 100%. I’m not suggesting it’s already inclusive, far from it.

    And I think this cheats us out of great art and truly authentic depictions. Even the Slumdog Millionaire example, the novelist of Q&A was Indian, yes, but a diplomat and someone who read about street kids in a newspaper.

    A really interesting artist is Doris Saledo out of Columbia, who makes installations from furniture owned by people who have been disappeared in Columbia. As a reviewer said, it’s much more subtle and powerful than Damien Hirst, whos knowledge of violence comes from watching scary movies.

    This is a huge problem and not one that will be solved any time soon, as many kids who are the first in their family to go to school study accounting and pragmatic majors that will get them a job, not things like art or writing.

    Often, artists are the children of the art collecting demographic. Most everyone else can’t affort to play the art game.

  11. Hi, all,
    I don’t know when you did this interview, but as if the 19 December, Olga Stefan moved to Switzerland and is no longer the Executive Director at CAC. Laura Harper has been hired as her replacement, and is doing a fantastic job already of filling the very big shoes Olga left behind.
    Susan Aurinko, Chair Chicago Artists Coalition
    PS- Jason is doing amazing things at New Ciry – Bravo Jason!

  12. Kathryn says:

    We did this 3 weeks ago, surrounded by moving boxes. My understanding is that Olga is still editor-in-Chief of Prompt.

    We keep in touch, she loves Switzerland.


  13. Since I finally got the program to take a comment of mine, I’ll rewrite my one that wouldn’t go up.

    I enjoyed the discussion, but agree that too much burden of desire is placed at the feet of critics. The dsays of critics as all important are LONG gone. Now, if you want to inter- and nationalize your regional scene, you need several things. We have often discussed this on Sharkforum (who you forgot, as well as Proximity, as important outlets internationally and widely read). First, curators with the vision and guts to do what Wesley calls “canon-building” shows are needed (you know, the Sensation kind, etc.) Then, collectors who literally buy into this. THEN critics. You have the artists. The first two you do not have. LA and Berlin do. London did and hopefully still does. This is the problem in most provincial places now.

    I liked Olga’s differentiation between reviews/coverage, criticism , and scholarly writing (she called it “academic”). This is important. As she pointed out, you have tons of “coverage,” — as we do, e.g., in Switzerland too — even more than you do — but have the same problem — thi is not real criticism that contributes to real “depth-building.” Stop complaining about critics and start working on some curatorial venues that the critics could write about, love, hate etc. And hope some self-assured collectors follow.

    I can’t wait to spend some time with Olga, now that she is in MY (second) country!

  14. Jason says:

    Mark, people living in Chicago know that there’s a wealth of “curators with vision and guts” who respect Chicago’s visual arts: Allison Peters (Hyde Park Art Center); the guys at the Chicago Cultural Ctr (Knight, Silverman, and Lunsford); Mark Pascale (AIC); Hamza Walker (Ren); Anthony Elms (Gallery 400); Karen Irvine (MoCP); Stephanie Smith (Smart Museum), also some galleries that function more as art spaces: Roots & Culture, Old Gold, I Space, 3Walls. All are Chicago-centric.

  15. Kathryn says:

    Hi All,

    Thanks for the comments Mark and Jason. Every other time I’ve done a show, the comments have been crickets.

    I’m just going to follow Jason around like a puppy because I agree with his optimism and respect that he knows more facts that I do.

    The question we debate, that Olga does a great job with, is the idea of an “exportable” Chicago style, maybe what you would call a Chicago canon?

    For me, I’m not excited about the idea of packaging up a Chicago-style of art for the sake of exportation. We’d be branding it as working-man’s art, renegade-yet-down-to-earth-midwestern- sensibility. Ugh. I also reject that anyone would really benefit, like a fantasy that “Chicago Art” will become famous and then everyone just gets to ride the wave and be famous with it.

    But again, my breakthrough since this interview is this: have a great local scene for the sake of having a local scene. And if great artist go national or international, great. But it’s their duty as individuals and gallerists to get that type of attention. Don’t wait for the city to do it for you. That’s Tony Fitzpatrick’s message, and he lives by example. In the writing world, each author exports themselves, one book at a time, and that model has been very successful.

    But to have the goal be that Chicago has the market share it used to have — that’s a dream, that’s nostalgia. And not to keep repeating myself, and to use Guthrie’s analogy of the art world “pie” -the Chicago slice is going to get smaller and smaller as the art world becomes more global.

    Anyway, my apologies to Tom Sanford, as he’s tired of this discussion. In my mind, the issue is fairly resolved. As long as when a group of 700 artists gather, there’s one from Chicago, we’re represented. Period.


  16. nic anderson says:

    maybe the problem with the art scene is art education. you can get an mfa without ever reading a book. in america, art seems to be and exercise in style rather than an exercise in thought. anywhere else in the world walter benjamin, michel foucault, for example and etc etc are basic required readings. no wonder october is a “hard read” when the most challenging thing we ever read in school is dave hickey’s “air guitar”. all we seem to be able to do is name drop and sometimes “word drop” (without actually understanding what we are saying, sounds like).
    what kind of meaningful art can come out of that?
    what kind of meaningful dialogue can come out of that?
    (other than the kind stumbling conversation that arrives nowhere like on there was on this episode).

  17. Olga says:

    Hi everyone,

    I just wanted to clarify one thing about my point of exporting Chicago art. I don’t think I quite expressed it as I intended to: I don’t mean anything about style, or aesthetic, or school, like there was decades ago. When I mentioned exporting, I meant, and I think I said something to this effect,an infrastructure here in CHicago that is concerned with supporting cultural/artistic liaisons and exchanges between artists here and beyond.

    So, the way that at Art CHicago a few years ago, Korea or Japan (sorry, I don’t remember exactly) had a booth showing a selection of their artists, this could be organized either at a fair in Europe or elsewhere for Chicago, or at a museum. I would think that those represented in such a manner would be curated in, in the case of the museum show, and in the case of the city booth at a fair, it would be application-based with the selection criteria made transparent. That’s one thought. Yeah, the pavillion model at the Venice Biennale, but city-based and with several artists, not forcing it in a stylistic presentation, but a broad spectrum of excellent work being currently created in Chicago.

    Also, the other component that i think is extremely important is the funding of artists not only to make postcards or document their work, but to be able to go abroad and work on projects with their counterparts elsewhere. This type of support is crucial to the development of a multi-layered and profound dialogue with the rest of the world. Certainly individuals can and have done it individually, but I suppose I support a more socialist model when it comes to arts funding, just like when it comes to a healthy society. Funding from the government and support for the arts financially is similar in my mind to universal healthcare. It’s also true that mny artists find support through residencies and grants from abroad, but I think that Chicago, and the US in general, would benefit from also taking this initiative and sending their cultural workers abroad in more numbers, who can in turn make connections and create opportunities for their networks back home.

    There are private grants, but almost none from the government level that export their talent – that ideology died with the end of the Cold War.

  18. Olga says:

    Also, another clarification – I’m not the editor of Prompt – I never was. My title is executive editor, more on the business end of it. Jeremy Biles is the editor.

  19. edmar says:

    My 2 cents.
    haven’t heard the podcast yet but i will comment on yer comments.

    I think Chicago is on and up-swing in terms of outlets for criticism and coverage.

    Let me toot our horn here:

    This March and April Proximity will be launching a few more publications to complement its mission. One is Pr, a review/preview tabloid newsletter. The other is the (Con)Temporary Art Chicago Guide. And lastly there is Materiél, a visual art super tabloid.

    In regards to the exporting Chicago concept.. Part of Public Media Institute’s (the .org behind proximity) mission is to do exactly that. We have been doing artist project exchanges for a few years now. Currently we are in the first stages of an ambitious project organized in Rotterdam.

    This show is an introduction of some of our favorite Chicago artists (and Proximity magazine) to the Dutch art scenes. In April a group of Dutch artists will be coming to Chicago.

    This project will continue over the next few years in a series of larger collaborative group shows. We are also duplicating this program with other art orgs and groups in different cities.

    This concept is being duplicated all over the city with at least a half dozen spaces and groups. Just dig deeper.

    I think that the problem with this second city fever in Chicago is that many of the so called experts on what is happening in Chicago are not spending enough time looking beyond their noses. We are stuck in our little art ghettos and balkanized shared interest zones. Or maybe we just like to whine. People I know are concerned with the quality of exhibitions, but i think this year will see a bumper crop of some extraordinary work. Also there are more “quality” spaces to add to the list of whats going on in town and there are new ones popping up every week..

    So to all you whiners: keep up the good work! And to all you trolls: start some media if you think you have the answers..

  20. edmar says:

    i just listened to the podcast.
    I guess i can see why people are whining. My guess is that conversations like these add to the tension and promote confusion and despair.

    It is also sad to hear that prompt is now on hiatus. What happened olga?

  21. Kathryn says:

    I don’t see how we added to the despair. 36 minutes into the thing, I ask Jason if the art scene is OK, and he says yes. So there ya have it. I was going to call this interview “Maybe everything is fine”, because I really do think the art scene is fine.

    To explain how this started, I would hear this systemic call about the Chicago art scene being flaccid and The Problem was a lack of press. Over and over, the press was named as a silver bullet. Then I watched all sorts of new media come online, and none of the whining stopped.

    I just wanted to know why. This is what I do, when I hear something over and over and don’t understand, I ask and ask until I do understand. This was just one of those conversations, and Duncan was out of town for 3 weeks, so I figured we were low on tape.

    So I asked and grew to feel that we are fine. And frankly, the whole global art scene “is fine” (on some conceptual level), growing and perking along. More people make art, show art, see art and buy art all over the world in quantities we’ve never seen before.

    So I certainly don’t feel negatively about it. I do however, think there’s one thing we really need: more cooperation between the media outlets. Ok, that’s a pipe dream, scratch that. But we need more centralized internet-aggregators of information about what’s going on here. Edmar, all this is news to me. It sounds great, but it’s hard to find stuff when you’re on the outside and you’re not surrounded by people who keep you in the loop. I was looking at gallery listing on Metromix, and they do a good job of just listing them all, but it’s really out of date and a lot of those galleries are closed. Lately, I’ve been wanting to see some experimental, storefront theatre. And all I see is listings for Steppenwolf, Neo-futurists and Red Moon. I’ve heard there are 200 storefront theatres. Where? Now someone will write back with some site I’ve never heard of that does a great job, but I need to be able to google it, it needs to readily available, like what the Reader was for art openings. No one’s found a good way to sift through all this stuff, it’s too dependent on word-of-mouth. I’m working with a gallery and doing a call for artists and there’s no centralized place to list that call, CAR is trying, but I don’t get a lot of responses from that site.

    One idea I’m working on with StepSister Press is to make a shared Google Map of the apartment gallery scene. Another thing I can’t find a serious set of listing for.


  22. Jason says:

    Kathryn, here’s a nice effort to list art spaces: http://onthemake.org/chicago-art-spaces/

    and Chicago Gallery News is pretty good at keeping up with the commercial stuff, and they’re widely read.

    Agreed, it was fine to have a conversation to say that we’re doing okay. No need to give a pep talk, really, just remind the world that the effort is alive.

  23. Kathryn says:


    That site is great. Let’s hope they stick around. Still, comprehensive would be nice, they have the West Loop nailed, but only have two listings for the River North area.

    Chicago Gallery News I believe is pay-to-play.

    I think a good site that has a nice infrastructure is ArtSlant, I just started volunteering for them. If everyone started listing shows on that site, it could be a replacement for the Reader listings.

    Again, New City does a nice job, when I clicked on River North, I got all reviews from the area.


  24. Jason says:

    pay to play might be the way to go for listings since actually doing them is data entry and so tedious. anyway, thanks for your support, Kathryn.

  25. Kathryn says:

    Thanks. I’ve been on that site all morning, lots of spaces I’d never heard of. So thanks again.

    That’s the problem with aggregation is that it’s not glamorous work and is a multi-year committment.

    My big Google Earth Map plan is that we populate the apartment galleries we know of, and then users can add or remove galleries. Then, like Wikis, you keep a backup, so if anyone sabotages your site, you can restore it with some ease.

    Writing this, I need to take the time to do this, I’m swamped, but to get this started I think would be fairly easy. And I’m married to a map man, so I can get some help.

    I’ll keep y’all posted.


  26. Kathryn says:

    Speaking of groups and spaces, thanks to Shannon Stratton for posting this on her Facebook page.



  27. 3 months ago, on this website, Duncan mentioned the “new” New City arts coverage; and I mentioned onthemake.org too, among others.



    News Archive: “Jerry Saltz on Frieze” October 27, 2008



    Comment #3
    duncan. Says:
    October 29th, 2008 at 10:40 am


    Check out what New City is rocking on the interweb…


    Comment #5
    Paul Germanos Says:
    October 29th, 2008 at 5:48 pm

    “Yes, there are, now, many relatively young arts-media outlets:

    Carl Warnick’s non-profit documentation on Flickr; the SAIC students at onthemake.org; Paul Klein’s artletter.com; Wesley’s sharkforum.org; Ed and Rachael’s Proximity Magazine; Erik Wenzel’s artoridiocy.blogspot.com…etc.

    And, yep: New City has an arts format that is much more reader-friendly than, ironically, The Reader.”


    And so I don’t know what to make of statements in this episode’s comments section such as the following:

    Kathryn Says:
    January 19th, 2009 at 12:38 pm

    “The catalyst for me is that New City quadrupled it’s arts coverage, and no one said a peep about it,”

  28. Are you familiar with the arts calendar on this page:


    “…starting up in September of 2000, with the help of Gallery 312, Counterpoint Networking Inc, and two grants from the Illinois Arts Council.”

    “This website serves as a consolidation center for mass e-mailings for art galleries and visual arts organizations in Chicago.”

  29. Kathryn says:

    Hi Paul,

    Yes, I’m on the list. I don’t want to knock it, I like Jno. Each gallery sends out a separate email. So sign up for 20 galleries, 20 emails come in, all from “info”.

    Thanks for pointing out the quotes, I get swamped and drift from the site. Hey, I’m part of the team, I think all these outlets are great, I think BAS is part of the solution along with all the things mentioned. I was exaggerating when I said “no one said anything”, I just felt like the battle cry that “nothing has replaced the New Art Examiner” isn’t quite right. IMHO, collectively, I feel like NAE has been replaced. And I think the insitutions have changed and are better for it. I believe Yood when he says the Art Institute pulled copies because of what they wrote. My guess is that with all the blogs, they’ve acquired a thicker skin.

    Then again, I’m an optimist.

    OK, new show tomorrow. This was not my strongest work, let’s talk about the new show when it posts.


  30. The title of this episode is, “Art Journalism.” OK.

    Start by asking:
    (1) “What is art?”
    (2) “What is journalism?”
    (3) “What is the relationship between art and journalism?”

    I suggest that meaningful dialogue is frustrated in part by the lack of agreement about these fundamental definitions.

    At the so-called “Chicago Artist Roundtable,” [Sunday, January 11, 2009] Lynne Warren was correct to assert that perception is shaped by age; Paul Klein correctly reported a tendency for artists, gallery owners and arts organizations to struggle to ‘re-invent the wheel,’ as opposed to learning from the experience of others; and Elizabeth Chodos correctly re-asserted that Chicago still needs [or needs again] some serious, local, art press.

    Say what you will about the Chicago Tribune’s Alan Artner, but know that in his own person he is a library of Chicago art: a repository of decades of viewing experience.

    And, conversely, admit that those people newly arrived to the City, or having reached only 20~odd years of age, can’t have any any real experience on which to draw.

    The “old” media ship is sinking; and it’s the one in which Artner and his peers sail. What’s lost?

    What does “journalism” mean to the “new” media — composed primarily of amateur on-line writers in their twenties and thirties? Are Chicago’s “art bloggers” going out into the field and conducting interviews and taking pictures? Citing sources? Checking facts? Doing research?

    Does the new art media exist for the purpose of promoting, documenting and critiquing the art? Or, is the media now an end in itself — used for the purpose of advancing the interests of the blogger, and the blogger’s friends, at the expense of art and other artists? Maybe, sometimes, there’s nothing more at work than a desire for a website and/or magazine?

    Has “deskilling” affected both writing and also visual art? Once upon a time bad art depended for its acceptance upon good theory. But now bad art and bad theory have married, producing bad art journalism?

    Tom seems right: events aren’t being covered; Nic seems right: the conversation here [and other places] in lieu of coverage “is stumbling.”

  31. Hi Kathryn,

    First: I respect you for “standing up” in public and writing something [anything, really] in your own name, in a manner that allows other people to respond in kind.

    Second: Without people like you — people willing to give their time and energy to nurture the things in which the believe — most of what is good in the World [including art] would cease to exist. Thank you.

    Please, take that as given.

    But, know I worry about several things:

    (1) The tone and the “level” of much [most] writing has fallen.

    (2) Proportional representation based upon factors such as race, religion, etc., has, looking back at the history of places like the former Yugoslavia, or Lebanon, led to so-called ethnic cleansing, campaigns of mass rape, etc..

    (3) While on the one hand, with regard to certain groups/causes, great demonstrations are made of the appearance of toleration and inclusion, on the other hand guests such as Derek Guthrie say things like: “Many funny jokes were made about the Hyman Park Rothschilds.” And no one asks in what way such things are funny…

    Best wishes with the next show,


  32. Jason says:

    Paul, many good questions, but most unanswerable because they’re too general. Who is “the media” you’re asking about? Which art bloggers? Why group all 20/30-somethings into one band of ignorants? which theories? which bad art? I’m afraid it’s these blind complaints that we’re constantly fighting, but they don’t hold ground.

  33. pedrovel says:


    There’s nothing wrong with writing about art and being ’30 something…it’s experience + action that counts, not age, that’s the reason why the “old media outlets” are diying, those people were mostly god-like , slower than hell, desk critics.

    And please, don’t forget my writing for Artnet during 6 years, that was criticism, not promo.

  34. pedrovel says:

    by the way, don’t forget Spaces.org, the FGA, Gravy, Ten by Ten, Cakewalk …Chi has always had cutting edge publications and writing… we were working with the blog format before the term “blogger” was in vogue, the difference now is that the traditional media and the elitist scenesters can’t hide it anymore…even CACA, finally!, has to accept other people have valuable opinions too.

    and besides the NAE Chi had writers, including me, writing for Modern Painters, Sculpture, Frieze, Flash Art and many other…

    that’s why the “whining,” or the ghost of it, if any, is not justified.

  35. It’s axiomatic: Someone 60, having viewed art for 40 years, has accumulated more art-viewing experience than it is possible for anyone aged 20-30 to have obtained.

    Right? You can’t refute that statement — but for the introduction of a time machine, daimonion, etc.

    You misquote me, writing that I: “group all 20/30-somethings into one band of [sic] ignorants.” [Novel, that, transformation of an adjective into a plural noun.]

    Not so. As above, my point is that there exists an older generation with great experience in the arts. And to the extent that good writing depends upon experience, said older generation will tend to write in a better [more informed] way than the younger generation.

    My fear is that our living history is being lost — and more than lost: rejected by the ignorant. Thanks for the license to introduce that word.

    If I mention Artner, Klein and Warren, there are specific examples of people with some history in the City.

    Do you mean to claim that experience is of no value?

    If I linked to the News Archive: “Jerry Saltz on Frieze” October 27, 2008, there is a specific example of an interaction revolving around the definitions of, and responsibility of journalists and journalism. I made my “complaint” there, in my own name, in a manner that allowed the parties to respond. Duncan responded. Yes, copying and pasting and calling it journalism really lights me up.

    I’m reluctant to quote bad writers [in the 20-30 bracket] working off-site — embarrassing them for the sole purpose of proving myself correct. I am holding back.

    While it’s true that there are many other with more experience, I’ve followed things in town since Gaylen Gerber was an artist-in-residence *at my high school* 1981 / 1982 [?].

    I’m struggling to be polite, as you appear to contradict not only logic — but also my personal experience of the events. I am telling you: Things have changed. I am a primary source. Ignoring me, you prove my point. And calling my words “blind complaints,” does not make them such.

    It’s not that the bar has been lowered, but rather that the bar has been done away with, and replaced with a ramp. Declining. Now, functionally illiterate people are not only being given high school diplomas but college degrees. And where, 20-25 years ago, artists were asked to prove some mastery of material/technique, some commitment to their “vision,” before showing their work, there’s nothing: nothing but utility.

    Is everyone who claims the title “journalist” a journalist by virtue of that claim? Is everyone who claims the title “artist” and artist by virtue of that claim? I’m tired of having my time wasted by charlatans.

    Pedro, not all that’s old is good; not all that’s new is bad. You are right. I want to see it everything, even if I disagree, provided that the practitioners have some professional competence. If the actors in question don’t take their writing or artwork seriously, why should I bother to consume it? Add any Brandl/Kimler quotes here.

  36. Kathryn says:

    Well, I’m just really honored to have such a civil and intelligent set of comments (not including mine) in this mix.

    To moderate a little between 31-36 and just stick to Internet issues, I think the jury is really out on blogging and online journalism. It’s a really new format, and right now it’s unedited and uncurated. So I agree with Paul that in many cases the writing has fallen. When I write for Time Out, we take pains with every single sentence, Chicago Public Radio was hopelessly forumlaic and polished. Here, I’ll be lucky if I read this over. Much Internet writing is really sloppy. But to stick up for Jason, some sites are fantastic, and edited and just as thoughtful (see Slate and New City), and I do think that’s the direction it’s going. I do think Internet journalism is in it’s infancy, and I personally like to speculate that “Web 3.0” will go back to fact-checking, good editing, investigative journalism and a code of ethics.

    15 years ago, my bother told me that there could be a countless number of websites and each one could be a book, a magazine, a radio tower or a TV station. And I knew, 15 years ago, that we wouldn’t have good, trained content creators to step up and fill all those spots. Talent is no more or less rare than it’s ever been.

    So say (I love math) there were 20 great art writers 30 years ago. And say there are 40 great art writers today. Well, they would just be a small fraction of the total number of art writers out there, it would seem like a huge mass of bad writers — but there’s still the same amount of talent in the pool.

    It’s all down to sifting through content. There’s so much out there, art and writing, you have to dig and dig to find the gems.

  37. pedrovel says:


    We agree age is not an issue, that quality and experience is important, and that not just anyone can claim to be a journalist/critic, that depends on credibility and longevity.

    Which means we have a great deal of good professionals, more than the city’s infrastructure/economy can actually support.

    and we agree all of them, old media and new media, are relevant and great assets to the city.

  38. Good point about curators, Jason, but those of us who live elsewhere and have a Chicago-link yet are international, know how little importance most of those you listed are, outside Chicago’s almost-one-horse-town. Not to insult them all — some you listed are quite strong, yet many are consensus-based, provincial. My point is that you need the interaction, as I mentioned, between all, AND an outward orientation as part of that — but not in the form of worshipping what goes on elsewhere, which is generally the stance of the Ren, a.o.

    I agree about the quality of writing generally decreasing — but don’t blame that all on the web. Look at what has happened to Modern Painters and many others — turning into trendy, poorly written consensus outlets. New City’s quality is far above that of many international publications, and that should be shocking.

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